The retail giant yesterday (1 May) announced that it had cut over eight million miles from UK roads in 2013, as part of its on-going ambition to become a zero-carbon business by 2050.

“We’ve made more use of sea and rail travel, and made sure delivery lorries are as full as possible before they set off,” said Steve Strachota, Tesco’s distribution director for the UK and Ireland.

“And we have introduced cutting-edge technology, like aerodynamic trailers and dual-fuel vehicles. It’s not only good for the environment – it makes our business more efficient too.”

The firm’s successful efforts have been recognised with an award from the Carbon Trust, which measures and certifies the environmental footprint of organisations, products and services.

Myles McCarthy, director of implementation at the Carbon Trust, said: “Tesco was one of the first major UK businesses to set ambitious targets for taking action on climate change and carbon emissions, looking not only at its own footprint, but those of its customers and supply chain. The achievements recognised by this award demonstrate how that commitment is now resulting in real environmental successes.

“Freight transport is one of the largest contributors to the UK’s direct greenhouse gas emissions, so it is great to see Tesco using its scale for good by setting an example on how environmental impact can be reduced at the same time as making their business more efficient.”

New vehicle technology

These reductions have been achieved thanks to reducing journeys made by road as well as Tesco’s ‘F plan’. Delivery lorries are now fuller, they drive for fewer miles and fuel economy has improved, the firm says.

New distribution centres are positioned in Dagenham and Reading so lorries don’t have to drive as far, and Tesco is trialling new vehicle technology including dual-fuel lorries that can run on both diesel and biogas and more aerodynamic trailers.

The use of trains and ships instead of lorries is also being expanded by Tesco right across Europe. And the company is using more sea routes – a move which has reduced road miles by over 80%.

“At Tesco we will continue to lead the way with our climate change strategy, moving forward with our ambition of becoming a zero-carbon business by 2050,” added Strachota.

The Carbon Trust award is for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainability and Environmental Performance’. It was presented at the 2014 Multimodal conference – the UK and Ireland’s leading freight transport and logistics exhibition.

Luke Nicholls

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie